Botched budget means no pay for Calif. lawmakers

By Judy Lin

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, June 22 2011 9:00 p.m. MDT

"The controller has made his determination. We should all work together to pass a solid budget," Brown said.

Democratic lawmakers said they were disappointed by the controller's decision. They said Chiang's decision would not help budget negotiations with Republicans.

"The controller is, in effect, allowing legislative Republicans to control the budget process, and I believe that's a very unfortunate outcome that is inconsistent with the intent of Proposition 25," Assembly Speaker John Perez said in a statement. Perez endorsed the measure last fall.

Sen. Sam Blakeslee, a Republican from San Luis Obispo, applauded the controller "on this difficult decision." He has a bill, SCA 12, clarifying that the controller has the authority to determine whether a budget is balanced.

The leader of the Senate had warned Monday that for Chiang to decide whether lawmakers passed a balanced budget sets a bad example for the state's balance of power.

"I think it is a bad precedent ... for anybody in the executive branch to question the quality of a budget passed by the Legislature. Because to do so shifts the balance of powers in what is supposed to be coequal branches of government in a way that I think is dangerous," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said.

Chiang said he was not playing politics, but following the law.

"The decisions we make in this office are incredibly difficult, but we call it straight. In many senses we view ourselves as a neutral umpire. We call balls and strikes," he said.

Brown has signed into law about $11.2 billion in cuts and fund transfers, but the state still faces a $9.6 billion budget deficit through July 2012. He and Democratic leaders want to extend a series of recent tax hikes to help close the shortfall but so far have been unable to get GOP support for that plan.

Two Republican votes in each house are needed to meet the two-thirds vote threshold for higher taxes or to place the question before voters.

The state's fiscal year starts July 1.

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